Milkweed with solar panels in the background at Jack's Solar Garden.
Milkweed with solar panels in the background at Jack's Solar Garden.
Habitat Hero

Jack's Solar Garden

Advancing renewable energy while creating bird-friendly habitat.
Milkweed at Jack's Solar Garden. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies
Milkweed at Jack's Solar Garden. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies
Habitat Hero

Jack's Solar Garden

Advancing renewable energy while creating bird-friendly habitat.

Background

Jack’s Solar Garden, located in Longmont, Colorado, features more than 3,200 solar panels that create a 1.2 megawatt community solar garden. It’s also the largest commercially active agrivoltaics system currently researching crop and vegetation growth in the United States. Audubon Rockies had the unique opportunity to partner with Jack’s Solar Garden and United Ecology to plant a living fence of more than 3,000 native plants—our largest Habitat Hero demonstration garden yet—around the periphery of the solar array.

Partnership and collaboration are essential to enhance the collective benefits of our work and build upon our broad organizational wingspan. Looking at landscape-scale conservation through the lens of a bird, Audubon Rockies was thrilled to help implement a mega planting project. Through this new effort, we are pioneering a way to advance renewable energy while creating wildlife habitat.

Benefits

By planting bird-friendly gardens, we can help reverse the biggest threats birds face: habitat loss from development and impacts from climate change. The bird-friendly garden at Jack’s Solar Garden provides habitat for birds and other wildlife, connects the community to nature, reduces carbon emissions, and provides a model for other green industry leaders.

Not all green energy is clean and the land must be developed responsibly. We need to move forward into renewable energy intelligently and think about our impacts. We are excited to learn from this project and continue to collaborate with other solar farms to replicate our success at other sites.

Contractors plant the Habitat Hero garden at Jack's Solar Garden. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies
A contractor plants the Habitat Hero garden at Jack's Solar Garden. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies
Contractors plant the Habitat Hero garden at Jack's Solar Garden. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies
An aerial view of the Habitat Hero garden planting at Jack's Solar Garden. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies
Jack's Solar Garden after the planting and solar installation were completed. Photo: Don Ireland/Don's Drones Over Denver
Ribbon cutting at Jack's Solar Garden. Photo: Ashley Meadows

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From Planting to Celebration

In May of 2020, we planted the bird-friendly garden at Jack’s Solar Garden with the help of a team of volunteers and professionals. The plants chosen for the garden offered a variety of vegetative layers and food sources for birds and pollinators. Some of the shrubs included fruit-bearing Boulder raspberries, elderberries, and golden currants. We also planted a variety of perennials that offer nectar throughout the growing season, including bee balm and blanket flower, and a mix of native grasses. By surrounding the solar array, it acts as a living fence while also storing carbon and offering fruit-picking to the public.

After a full growing season, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Jack’s Solar Garden in August of 2021. The ceremony gave the public a chance to tour this exciting project and learn about combining solar farms and bird-friendly gardens. More than 120 community members, partners, sponsors, and dignitaries joined us at this event, including representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Representative Joe Neguse, and Representative Ken Buck. 

“This new project will create habitat for pollinator and bird species at the garden, enhancing the local ecosystem and helping to sequester carbon. I applaud Audubon Rockies and their partners for their work on this noteworthy project."

Senator Michael Bennet

In the News

The planting project at Jack’s Solar Garden received significant attention from the press, and you can view our segment on Denver 7 (ABC) as well as our article in The Longmont Leader.

Supporters

Audubon Rockies is grateful to Elevations Credit Union, Four Pines Advisors, Great Western Bank, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, High Country Gardens, JAX, Sunday Supply, and the Xcel Energy Foundation for sponsoring the Habitat Hero garden at Jack's Solar Garden.

We would also like to recognize our amazing project partners, Earth Love Gardens, Jack’s Solar Garden, and United Ecology for their support and hard work.

JAX's logo next to Hewlett Packard Enterprise's logo.

Next Steps

As solar energy grows in Colorado's Front Range, so does the potential to apply this technique to other solar farms. In 2021, we began planning another solar garden in Johnstown. Learn more about it at the project's webpage!

How you can help, right now